Buddhism and Human Information Behavior


   My name is Marion and I am a student of library science at Rutgers.  Given my name(my life has, from my earliest memory, been haunted by that song from the Music Man), love of reading  and family members who are librarians as well in a way this course of study seems not so much aspirational as inevitable, but all that said I really like the program, and the field of librianship . What has been really interesting to me is how much my engagement with Buddhism has helped me be a better student of library science.

I have been an intermittently conscientious meditator for about eight years, mostly at Shambhala centers. I initially started going in Baltimore , mostly out of a blanket effort to support anything and everything positive that was going on in Baltimore and because there was free tea and cookies.

A couple years later, in New York, I started to realize there were other centers in other cities, and I started attending mostly to keep down my caffeinated beverage costs. About four years into this someone was like: “Have you read this book by this guy Trungpa Ripoche?” and I was like:“No.” but then I did and then slowly I started to connect to the whole practice on a level a little deeper than tea and cookies.

Probably because I am in rebellion against an overly structured childhood, as an adult I tend to drift into things;  Buddhism, library science, and relationships( well fingers crossed on the last one). What is nice about both Buddhism and library science is that you have to deal with things as they are. People, have a certain nature, a certain way of searching for information, and in turn creating information. In order to be a better librarian you have to accept that nature.

    In fact, my whole process of finding more information out about Buddhism could be used a case study for human information behavior. All I wanted was an inexpensive source of tea , cookies and positive people on Tuesday or Wednesday night, but in my search for these things I was gradually exposed to all sorts of things like following the breath, dakinis, realms of being, mandalas, and washing lots and lots of dishes which are all in themselves( except for breath and the dishes) tools for organizing and conveying information .

Instead of Trungpa, Chodron and Allione you have Dervin, Pettigrew and Kuhlthau but everyone is interested in the human mind. Other than focusing on my breath, which is particularly useful in information technology courses, one concept that I have somehow gotten away from Buddhism is the concept of drala. To me it is like a squirrel searching for nuts. It is really useful to have the concept of drala knocking around in your head when you are confronted with complex human information behavior concepts like gap fill, ASK and berry picking. ASK stands for anomylous state of knowledge, and it theorizes that most people search out information resources because they have an incomplete state of knowledge about a topic that is important to them. Sometimes I feel I came to Buddhism because my emotional state and ability to connect to other human beings was incomplete, and I feel just like a library can fix an anomalous state of knowledge, a Buddhist center can remedy an anomalous state of emotional intelligence. I hope the searching continues in both information grounds*.


An information ground is a location created when people come together for shared purpose and exchange information about various topics  

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